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Skip Scarborough was a songwriter and producer who worked with Earth, Wind & Fire, Patti Labelle, LTD, and many other R&B stars before his death in 2003. He wrote the music for this song, and was also the inspiration for the lyrics Withers came up with. Withers told us: "Skip was a very nice, gentle man. The way Skip was, every day was just a lovely day. He was an optimist. If I had sat down with the same music and my collaborator had been somebody else with a different personality, it probably would have caused something else to cross my mind lyrically. It was a combination of the music and the person and the ambiance in the room."
Withers: "We're all sponges in a sense. You put us around very nice people, and the nice things come out in us. You put us around some jerks, and we practice being jerks. We all adjust. Did you ever notice the difference in the way you speak to your grandmother or your best contemporary friend? If I had sat down with the same music and my collaborator had been somebody else with a different personality, it probably would have caused something else to cross my mind lyrically."
In 1999, this was used in a series of very popular commercials for The Gap, where it helped sell a lot of Khakis. Many people discovered the song because of the commercial.
Near the end of the song, Withers holds a note for 18 seconds... "Lovely Daaaaaaaaay." This might be the longest held vocal note of any hit song.
In 1992, a group called The Soul System remade this into a dance song that was used in the movie The Bodyguard
. It wasn't the first time one of Withers' songs was made into a dance hit - in 1987 Club Noveau had a #1 hit with a cover of "Lean On Me
Artists who have covered this include Clarence Carter, Hootie & the Blowfish and Take 6. Luther Vandross also recorded it with Busta Rhymes on Vandross' last album Dance With My Father
. (Read the full interview with Bill Withers
They Might Be Giants
Who writes a song about a name they found in a phone book? That's just one of the everyday things these guys find to sing about. Anything in their field of vision or general scope of knowledge is fair game. If you cross paths with them, so are you.
Michael Glabicki of Rusted Root
Michael tells the story of "Send Me On My Way," and explains why some of the words in the song don't have a literal meaning.
Jason Newsted (ex-Metallica)
The former Metallica bassist talks about his first time writing a song with James Hetfield, and how a hand-me-down iPad has changed his songwriting.
Mac Powell of Third Day
The Third Day frontman talks about some of the classic songs he wrote with the band, and what changed for his solo country album.